Meltdown on opening morning
It was a brutally cold couple of days before the opener in 1981 with temperatures expected to dip to -15 by the opening morning of deer season in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A few of us wondered how we would stay warm on our stands when my younger brother Dave offered a possible solution. I decided to take his advice and fill a coffee can with pre-soaked charcoal briquettes. In the wee hours before light at camp, I made sure to soak my briquettes with enough lighter fluid so it wouldn’t evaporate by the time I needed to stay warm and light that can of coal. I figured more lighter fluid would be better. About 6:30AM I couldn’t take the cold anymore and decided to light my homemade heater.
At first, everything went well; the coals started to flame slowly. Minutes later the flames were getting a little high out of the rim of the can I had placed on a log in my ground stand. I became concerned the flames may cause the log to start on fire. So with my heavy gloves I lowered the inferno to the ground. That was enough to really get things going and the flames shot out like a blow torch three feet into the air with sparks flying everywhere! I was now worried. I quickly got out of the stand in search of some snow but I could only find a handful or two. Each handful caused a steam cloud to belch into the air with a loud hissing sound. The flames kept growing …I needed some water but none around. I was desperate to find a way to dowse the flames when I realized the only way out was to use my own biological fire hose.
With a full load of back pressure, I positioned the hose with tender care; not to get too close to start a wiener roast but close enough to do the job. Acres away the steam could be seen rising in a mushroom cloud formation. Fire under control. I heard the hooves of frightened deer bound out of the swamp from the down-wind side of the meltdown. It took years before another deer came close to that spot. My friends at camp saw the mushroom cloud 40 acres away. Needless to say, I didn’t see any deer that morning and have never used the homemade warmer again. It wasn’t a good idea after all.
This really happened to me!
(Name withheld for obvious reasons.)